Can You Build A Full-Size Boat Out Of Balsa Wood?

The show a wooden boat puts out is nothing, compared to boats made nowadays, that use high tech materials, like plastic fiber, aluminum, etc. With the added factor that wooden boats are lighter than regular boats, and that the greater variety of wood available means you can vary how your boat feels according to your needs.

These factors give you the ability to customize your boating experience completely. However, it can be overwhelming when you go choose the material for your boat. With this vast ocean of materials available, finding the right one might prove difficult.

What Type Of Wood Is Usually Used?

When making a boat, there are a few names in the industry that are highly recognized. These woods are used quite frequently, each with its pros and cons. We’ll mention a few here to help you compare.


A commonly found type of wood that is almost used everywhere. It is a species that is native to eastern and central North America. From the hardwood family, the ash tree provides material that is very difficult to rot and can be bent easily.

Moreover, its great strength to weight ratio allows for a solid build. Thus, making it an excellent choice for boat building.

Yellow Cedar

A name that we’re all quite familiar with. This belongs to the cypress family; they are very commonly found on the coasts of northwestern North American. They are a common name in the construction industry.

Their wide known name is due to them being the toughest in the Cedar category with a very high tolerance to rot and decay. And also has an extremely nice shine when varnished. Thus, they are the secret to some show-stopping show-stopping boats that you’ll find in the harbor.


Coming down from the deciduous species, this is another name very common to the ears. You can find its origin in various parts of the world, making it great for cutting down costs in transportation.

These carry a course structure and a spiraled grain. However, they are straightforward to cut and bend, making them very effective to work with.


The 2nd time we’re mentioning this name, with the various coniferous variations. These trees are mostly grown in the northern temperate conditions. These trees provide wood that is the key structural component in many contraptions.

The wood secretes its oils. This adds to the strength of the wood. It is also a very stable and safe choice. Thus the wood won’t break apart, making it a great choice considering you don’t want your boat filling up with water.


Its flexibility is what makes it famous in the boating the industry as it makes planking such an easy task. Another species of the coniferous trees are commonly found in the north and central American region, Europe and Asia.

The fir provides a significant rot free element in its wood; this saves it from all the pollution found in the rivers and other water bodies. Also, it’s easy to work with attitude makes it a favorite within carpenters.

Can You Make Boats Using Balsa?

The names we just mentioned above are a few of the top names in the boat building industry. However, they all lack something that our next candidate tops out in, that is, weight.

This wood usually is not used in the boat building industry, but if used, it could provide very large changes. Thus, providing the answer to your question i.e., Yes, Balsa wood, would make a great substitute in the boat building process.

What Is Balsa Wood?

A worldwide recognized name, Balsa wood is quite grandly known in the wood industry. Scientifically known as ‘Ochroma pyramidale,’ it’s commonly found in the tropical climate conditions. Making it fairly easily available in the market, with trees that grow more than 30m in height, thus delivering some hefty pieces of timber.

·  Weight

 What makes Balsa wood to stand out is its lightweight. The lightness of the wood gives it a lower density than other materials. Allowing your boat to make relatively better time than other boats made of heavier material. So, if you’re interested in a boat that can increase your speed, then this material should be on top of your list.

· Pricing

Being available in the tropical climates allows you to find the product widely available. Proving advantageous as you get a great deal at an affordable price. Making them convenient for large boats.

· Workability

It might get a little difficult to work with; due to the extremely low density, the surface might get a bit fuzzy. This might make it difficult to hold nails. However, since most planks on the hull are glued together, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Moreover, you won’t have to apply for a large number of coats. The woods stain pretty easily, so a few coats should do.

· Strength

 You might expect the wood to break easily, due to its lightness. However, that’s far from the truth. Balsa wood is a part of the hardwood community. So, it can provide great resistance to the roughness of the waters, and also be resistant to moderate bumps.

· Rot Resistance

Since the wood is part of the sapwood family, it is quite prone to insect attacks. This may be seen as a con, but a good rub with some pesticide solvent and some wax. Will give you layers of protection, keeping you away from rot and wood dampening.

Balsa Wood Uses

All these factors make Balsa wood a great choice when you’re considering building small wooden boats. However, this wouldn’t be the first time Balsa wood is being used in water-based transportation.

The wood is currently used commonly to make Buoys, Rafts, Surfboards Fishing Lures. All these are an indication of Balsa wood being a great choice when it comes to making boats.


Nothings perfect, if you consider those materials that are commonly used to make boats, they aren’t either. It’s in our hands to keep adjusting to things, and if we can’t, we try to fix its problems. That is what is needed when it comes to Balsa. Even with its flaws, we’re confident it’ll make great boats.

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